The Story of Joseph in the Qur’an
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Think about it. Besides Facebook stalking, you talk to people who know or knew that person, right? In a similar way, by asking our Muslim friends about Joseph—by reading a very different account of Joseph—we learn more about Jacob and the whole family. And Jacob has made it quite clear to Joseph through his words how loved he is and how he will be protected by God.
Where is God in the Genesis account? Yeah, he probably could have stopped his sons from throwing out Joseph like a bag of old technicolor dreamcoats, but I want to focus on how he decides to put his trust in God and in all of his sons—not for the sake of making a wish upon a star for some family tranquility, but for the sake of offering them a chance to do the right thing and reconcile their differences with each other.
He offers reflections on the lectionary readings for the upcoming Sunday. He keeps a blog at FatherFarr.
Can you study the Bible by reading the Qur'an?
Episcopalian Rules Also, Episcopalians Rule. Office: Email: info stjameswh. So What? Tagged with: Bible , christ , christian , God , Jacob , joseph , koran , muslim , proper 14 , qur'an , Scripture. Share This Post! You might also like. But in religious texts the story is also invested with deeper significance; it encapsulates the unique shape and meaning of the life of a Manifestation of God.
In barest summary, the principal events of the story in Genesis are as follows. Joseph was the second youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob. His mother, and the mother of his younger brother, Benjamin, was Rachel.
When young Joseph incurred the wrath of his brothers by telling them, with innocent honesty, of two symbolic dreams portraying his eventual dominion over them, they conspired to kill "this dreamer" Gen. His brother Ruben persuaded them, instead, to cast him into a well.
Joseph and Yusuf: Comparing Narratives of Genesis and the Qur’an
Eventually they sold Joseph to traveling merchants who brought him into Egypt where they, in turn, sold him to Potiphar, the Captain of the Pharaoh's guard. Through Joseph's virtues and gifts he eventually rose to a position of great favor and responsibility; but, when Potiphar's wife, having failed in her efforts to seduce him, claimed that it was he who had tried to seduce her, Joseph was cast into prison.
Even there, however, through his innate capacities, he rose to a position of favor Gen. Then begins a sequence of two sets of twin dreams that Joseph successfully interpreted. In the first set, the Pharaoh's butler and baker, having been cast into prison, sought Joseph's interpretation of their respective dreams. He complied, telling them that the butler would live and be restored to the Pharaoh's household but that the baker would die, both of which predictions came to pass.
In the second set of dreams the Pharaoh dreamed first of seven fat cows and seven lean cows that came out of the river, then of seven good ears of corn that consumed seven bad ears. Joseph interpreted both dreams as a single imminent prophecy warning of the approach of seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of famine. He counseled the Pharaoh to take steps to prepare for these events.
For these feats Joseph was made overseer of all the Pharaoh's land and goods Gen.
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The next episode--the central one of the tale--relates Joseph's forgiveness of his brothers when they came to Egypt seeking relief from the famine and Joseph's eventual reunion with his family. Through a series of stratagems he compelled the brothers, in stages and by degrees, to see the errors of their ways. He ordered them to return to Canaan and bring to Egypt their entire family the eventual tribes of Israel , including their father.
Before the brothers' returned to Egypt with their father after this second trip into Canaan God spoke to Jacob in a dream, assuring him that he had nothing to fear and counseling him to go into Egypt as bidden by Joseph Gen. The episode illustrates Joseph's true purpose--to awaken remorse in his brothers for their earlier misdeeds, and it dramatizes the forgiveness, generosity, compassion, and love that Joseph shows to his brothers, standing in transcendent contrast to their own earlier actions against him.
To someone for whom the story is a symbolic dramatization of the life and mission of a Manifestation of God, leaving out any detail in summarizing it is potentially problematic. But it seems safe to say that two motifs-- dreams and garments--seem to be more important than others as symbols because of the way they recur, unify the story, and illustrate the station of Joseph.
It is Joseph's own dreams and his ability to interpret dreams that sets him apart, whether his clear vision of his own eventual ascendancy or his ability to interpret the dreams of the prisoners and the Pharaoh. Further, the dream motif also demonstrates Jacob's spiritual station when God, in a dream, reassures Jacob and tells him to go as bidden into Egypt Gen. Obviously the dream motif illustrates a superior knowledge based on mystical union with God.
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Joseph is the source of guidance and protection for everyone he encounters, even when separated from everyone while he was in the darkness of the well or in the prison where he has been cast. In Jacob's dying words, he lauded Joseph's having received "blessings of heaven above" and "blessings of the deep that lieth under" and blessings of the womb Gen.
The second major motif--garments--also seems to symbolize the rank of a Manifestation of God or divinely inspired teacher and His suffering. At the beginning of the story it is Joseph's coat of many colors emblematic of his special rank that his brothers strip from him and dip into the blood of a freshly slaughtered goat, telling Jacob that it is the blood of Joseph. Chapter 38, a digression that tells the story of Judah, the brother most bent on killing Joseph, seems to be about those who would usurp the Prophet's station. It uses imagery of garments as a negative symbol, specifically when Tamar, wife of Judah's deceased son put off her widow's garments and replaced them with those of a harlot to entrap Judah, by which means she conceived twins.
In Egypt, when Joseph is summoned back from prison to interpret the Pharaoh's two dreams, he first changed his "raiment," and when the Pharaoh, in gratitude, elevated Joseph to a position second only to that of his own son, Pharaoh "arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck" Gen. Finally, Joseph was described by his dying father as "a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall" Gen. Though not an overt image of garments, the bough can be seen as a metaphor related to the garments treated throughout as emblematic of blessings.
All these images, like the dreams, seem designed as ways of repeatedly defining Joseph in terms of a spiritual ruler. On a literary level, the story of Joseph can be interpreted in many ways: as a tale of the separation of a lost child miraculously protected and eventually found; as a story of reunion; or as a story of forgiveness and reconciliation. As a religious text, each of these aspects can also be seen as metaphors illustrating the healing mission of a Manifestation of God.
Whether viewed in literary or religious terms, Joseph is presented in The Old Testament as a chosen soul, gifted with special powers. His bond with the higher source of these gifts is never seriously threatened or questioned by Joseph or by the narrator. It is simply manifested in stages that successively and increasingly reveal his wisdom and love and the unquestionable primacy of his station.
Moreover, he is the link in the chain of authority between Jacob and Moses. It is the other characters who suffer and grow in more traditional human ways, relative to their treatment of and attitudes toward Joseph. They are redeemed by him in spite of themselves.
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The traditional modes of interpreting the significance of the story within Judaism are too richly various and complex to present adequately, even if the author were able to do so. But several of the typical traditional approaches can be noted. One approach sees the biblical story as a form of evidence about Jewish history.
The Prophet Joseph in the Qur'an, the Bible, and History
Scholars generally agree that numerous details in the story resonate convincingly with what is known of Egyptian culture during the early to mid-second millennium B. Earlier rabbinical commentators were generally less interested in pinning down historical details. Instead, they tended to view Joseph as an exemplar, an idealized model of human conduct who combined physical beauty and moral excellence.
Whatever the reason, in Jewish midrash Joseph, generally speaking, evolved into a permanent symbol of the wise man rather than remaining a clear and sustained symbol of a Manifestation of God. Finally, because the biblical version of the story is a uniquely articulated masterpiece of narrative, many modern Old Testament scholars want to see much of the story's meaning in the shape and features of the story itself. They search for redactions, analogues, and borrowings from folk traditions. Such features as the parallel dreams and the disappearance into the well and the prison lend themselves to symbolic interpretations.
The classic collection of midrash by Louis Ginsberg, includes many symbolic and mystical interpretations for parts of the story. Jacob's grieving for the loss of Joseph becomes a rumination about the loss of the Covenant with God; in fact, the underlying theme of God's plan for Israel recurs as an interpretation throughout the midrash.
Yet the story had a prominent place in the development of early Christian theology as a symbol for the Christian Savior, and it continues to be both spiritually significant in Christianity and a rich imaginative source for artists. To understand the early Christian response to the story of Joseph it is necessary to understand something of the way in which the theology of early Christianity developed.
During its formative stages, the Christian Faith was faced with two great issues among others for which it needed to develop responses. The first was the need to explain the relationship of the New Testament to the Old Testament.